By Thornton Blount 8/30
Long story short – I had a wild summer on the campaign trail.
I started the summer slow, spending about three weeks at home enjoying some down-time, which – retroactively – I am incredibly grateful of. Towards the end of May, I started at Hillary for America HQ in Brooklyn, NY, and within a short ten days my life had changed entirely. Working on the travel team, I had the opportunity to work on the behind-the-scenes operations of one of the largest presidential campaigns in history. I was in charge of booking flights, trains, hotels, rental cars, and buses for the thousands of Clinton staffers across the United States. I also worked on accounting (unexpectedly), by tracking down every last cent spent on our million dollar monthly budget – a monumentally difficult task – to ensure that the campaign remained FEC compliant. I also worked on luxury hotel research for our principals and surrogates, and managed an intern volunteer driver program alongside another travel team intern. Through volunteer driving staffers for the campaign, I found myself in the same room as some amazing people and backstage at some amazing events. It was humbling and exciting to compare and contrast my life ten days before starting at HFA and ten days after. I’ll be able to say more on this after the campaign has ended…
After an incredible few months in Brooklyn, I was hesitant to leave. I had registered for classes here at Wake in the fall but I was considering taking the semester off and becoming full-time staff at campaign HQ. Brooklyn began to feel like home, I loved my job and responsibilities, and it’s (obviously) a campaign worthy of my every last effort. In the middle of my indecision, a staff member suggested I take a position in the field – a hybrid decision where I could work on the campaign, but do so in Winston and still take a few classes. I immediately interviewed and accepted an offer to be a field organizer. Working here in Winston-Salem is important work, and a dream opportunity for me. North Carolina, although I’m biased, is the most important state in this election. It is a traditional swing state, and tied 50-50 between republican and democratic voters. President Obama won this state by 14,000 votes in 2008 and then lost it by nearly 100,000 votes in 2012. We also lost our Senator Kay Hagan’s seat in 2014 – and it’s thus crucial to swing a 180 in 2016 to be able to win nationally.
It has also been exciting to work here in North Carolina because I am no longer a Hillary-specific staffer. Due to the number of other crucial races in North Carolina this year (Roy Cooper for Governor and Deb Ross for Senate), the party has structured itself as a campaign committee and subsequently launched a ‘coordinated campaign.’ That means that I work for all of our democratic candidates, up and down the ticket, to not only turn NC blue for Hillary, but to regain the governor’s mansion, a seat in the United States Senate, some seats in the House of Representatives, a majority in the State House, and blue mayors and city councils across the state. It’s an enormous operation with daunting consequences, making it all that much more of an appealing and exhilarating position.
I’d like to add a quick after-note, thanking Wake the Vote for inspiring me to pursue all of these new opportunities and employment. I originally found myself at campaign HQ this summer because WTV had a 90-hour summer volunteering requirement! One thing led to another, and here I am now with a full-time field position for the Democratic Party – and enjoying a semester with only one course on my schedule: Wake the Vote’s classroom component of course.